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Publication numberUS5571965 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/302,283
Publication dateNov 5, 1996
Filing dateSep 8, 1994
Priority dateSep 8, 1994
Fee statusLapsed
Also published asUS5723767
Publication number08302283, 302283, US 5571965 A, US 5571965A, US-A-5571965, US5571965 A, US5571965A
InventorsFrederick J. Rogers, Jean deBellefeuille
Original AssigneeFmc Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Wheel balancer parameter entry device
US 5571965 A
Abstract
An improvement to a vehicle wheel balancer having a rotatable shaft upon which a wheel to be balanced is mountable and a digital signal processor, the improvement comprising a parameter entry device for determining the offset and diameter of the wheel which comprises an elongated rod slideably and rotatably mounted to the balancer in parallel with the rotatable shaft; a transverse arm connected to an end of the rod nearest the wheel, the arm comprising a wheel contacting tip; a first rotary encoder coupled to the distal end of the rod and having a shaft associated with the rod, wherein rotation of the rod rotates the shaft and thereby causes the first rotary encoder to generate a digital signal representative of the amount of rotation of the rod; a rack mounted to the balancer in alignment with the rod; and a second rotary encoder coupled to the rod and having a shaft associated with a rotatable gear which engages the rack, wherein extension of the rod rotates the shaft and thereby causes the second rotary encoder to generate a digital signal representative of the amount of extension of the rod; whereby movement of the wheel contacting tip into contact with the wheel causes the first and second rotary encoders to generate digital signals representative of the offset and diameter of the wheel.
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Claims(4)
What is claimed is:
1. A parameter entry device for a wheel balancer having a rotatable shaft upon which a wheel to be balanced is mounted, which comprises:
an elongated rod slideably and rotatably mounted on the wheel balancer in parallel with the shaft;
a transverse arm connected to one end of the rod;
a first rotary encoder having a shaft connected to the distal end of the rod;
wherein rotation of the arm causes rotation of the shaft of the first rotary encoder;
a second rotary encoder supported on the rod and having a shaft which is connected to a gear;
a rack mounted on the wheel balancer in alignment with the rod;
wherein the gear engages the rack and extension of the rod causes rotation of the shaft of the second rotary encoder.
2. In a vehicle wheel balancer having a rotatable shaft upon which a wheel to be balanced is mountable and a digital signal processor means, the improvement comprising a parameter entry device for determining the offset and diameter of the wheel which comprises:
an elongated rod slideably and rotatably mounted to the balancer in parallel with the rotatable shaft;
a transverse arm connected to an end of the rod nearest the wheel, the arm comprising a wheel contacting tip;
a first rotary encoder connected to and supported on the rod and having a shaft associated with the rod, wherein rotation of the rod rotates the shaft and thereby causes the first rotary encoder to generate a digital signal representative of the amount of rotation of the rod;
a rack mounted to the balancer in alignment with the rod;
a second rotary encoder connected to and supported on the rod and having a shaft associated with a rotatable gear which engages the rack, wherein extension of the rod rotates the shaft and thereby causes the second rotary encoder to generate a digital signal representative of the amount of extension of the rod;
means for communicating the digital signals from the first and second rotary encoders to the processor means;
whereby movement of the wheel contacting tip into contact with the wheel causes the first and second rotary encoders to generate digital signals representative of the offset and diameter of the wheel.
3. The parameter entry device of claim 2, further comprising a bracket connected to the distal end of the rod, wherein the first rotary encoder is attached to the bracket and the shaft of the first rotary encoder is connected to the end of the rod.
4. In a vehicle wheel balancer having a rotatable shaft upon which a wheel to be balanced is mountable and a digital signal processor means, the improvement comprising a parameter entry device for determining the offset and diameter of the wheel which comprises:
an elongated rod slideably and rotatably mounted to the balancer in parallel with the rotatable shaft;
a transverse arm connected to an end of the rod nearest the wheel, the arm comprising a wheel contacting tip;
a first rotary encoder coupled to the rod and having a shaft associated with the rod, wherein rotation of the rod rotates the shaft and thereby causes the first rotary encoder to generate a digital signal representative of the amount of rotation of the rod;
a rack mounted to the balancer in alignment with the rod;
a second rotary encoder coupled to the rod and having a shaft associated with a rotatable gear which engages the rack, wherein extension of the rod rotates the shaft and thereby causes the second rotary encoder to generate a digital signal representative of the amount of extension of the rod;
means for communicating the digital signals from the first and second rotary encoders to the processor means;
whereby movement of the wheel contacting tip into contact with the wheel causes the first and second rotary encoders to generate digital signals representative of the offset and diameter of the wheel;.
a bracket connected to the distal end of the rod, wherein the first rotary encoder is attached to the bracket and the shaft of the first rotary encoder is connected to the end of the rod; and
wherein the second rotary encoder is attached to the bracket and the rotatable gear is connected to the shaft of the second rotary encoder.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an apparatus for balancing rotary bodies, such as the wheels of a motor vehicle. More particularly, the invention relates to a parameter entry device for electronically measuring the parameters of a wheel to be balanced.

2. Description of Related Art

Wheel balancers are well known in the automotive service equipment art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,046,017, which issued to Hill and is owned by the assignee hereof, discloses a motorized wheel balancer comprising a rotatable shaft upon which the wheel to be balanced is mounted and a pair of force transducers positioned adjacent the shaft for measuring the forces imparted to the shaft by the unbalance in the rotating wheel. These wheel balancers typically comprise computer processor means for processing the force transducer outputs to determine the magnitudes and angular positions of the unbalance forces appearing on both the inner and outer rims of the wheel. In order for the processor means to determine the magnitudes of the unbalance forces, certain measurements relating to the wheel to be balanced must be provided, such as the distance between the force transducers and the inner rim of the wheel, which is commonly referred to as offset, and the width and diameter of the rims at the point where the correction weights are to be attached.

Some prior art wheel balancers employ electronic parameter entry devices to aid the operator in measuring the offset and diameter of a wheel to be balanced. These devices typically comprise an elongated rod which is mounted parallel to the rotatable shaft and includes a transverse arm connected to the end of the rod closest the wheel. The rod is both extendible and rotatable to bring the distal end of the arm into contact with the rim of the wheel on which a correction weight will be attached, and electronic means, such as potentiometers, are coupled to the shaft to measure the linear extension and rotation of the shaft, from which the processor means can compute the offset and diameter of the wheel.

The potentiometers used in prior art parameter entry devices are analog devices which can be adversely affected by the normal changes in temperature and humidity experienced in a wheel service station environment. In addition, in wheel balancers employing digital microprocessors as the processor means, additional circuitry must be provided to digitize the output of the potentiometer. Furthermore, parameter entry devices may become out of calibration under the normal, typically rigorous use of the wheel balancer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a parameter entry device for a wheel balancer which is relatively impervious to changes in temperature and humidity. Another object of the present invention is to provide a parameter entry device which requires no additional circuitry to digitize the output of the device. A further object of the invention is to provide a parameter entry device which may be simply calibrated.

According to the present invention, these and other objects and advantages are achieved by providing a parameter entry device comprising an elongated rod which is slideably and rotatably mounted parallel to the rotatable shaft of the wheel balancer, a transverse arm connected to the end of the rod closest the wheel, a first rotary encoder coupled to the rod for measuring the amount of rotation of the rod, and a second rotary encoder coupled to the rod for measuring the amount of linear extension of the rod. The first and second rotary encoders are preferably optical rotary encoders which are relatively impervious to changes in temperature and humidity. In addition, the rotary encoders generate digital outputs which can be transmitted directly to the processor means without the need for associated digitizing circuitry. The parameter entry device is operated by moving the distal end of the arm into contact with the inner rim of the wheel. The encoders generate digital outputs which are representative of the amount of extension and rotation of the rod. These outputs are transmitted to the processor means, which thereafter calculates the offset and diameter of the wheel using conventionally derived formulas.

The invention also includes a method of calibrating the parameter entry device which comprises moving the distal end of the arm to a first position with respect to the shaft, moving the arm to a second position with respect to the shaft, and returning the arm to a resting position. The distance from the arm to the shaft and the angle from the shaft to the resting position can thus be determined, and these values can be used in subsequent measurements to yield accurate measurements of the offset and diameter of the wheel.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective, partial exploded view of the wheel balancer parameter entry device of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is a diagram showing the operation of the calibration feature of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1, the parameter entry device according to the present invention, which is indicated generally by reference number 10, is shown incorporated in a wheel balancer 12. Exemplary wheel balancer 12, which can be any of a number of different types of wheel balancers, includes a rotatable shaft 14 upon which a wheel W is mounted for balancing, a backing collar 16 against which wheel W is positioned on shaft 14, a pair of force transducers mechanically coupled to the shaft for measuring the forces imparted to the shaft by the unbalance in the rotating wheel, a computer processor means 18 for processing the force transducer outputs to determine the magnitudes and angular positions of the unbalance forces appearing on both the inner IR and outer OR rims of wheel W, and a video display means 20 for communicating the wheel unbalance information to the operator.

Parameter entry device 10 comprises an elongated rod 22 and a preferably plastic bushing fixture 24 having two aligned apertures 26 into which rod 22 is slideably and rotatably received. Fixture 24 is aligned so that rod 22 is parallel with shaft 14 and is connected to the frame or cabinet of wheel balancer 12 with any appropriate fasteners, such as screws. Rod 22 extends through an opening 28 in the side of wheel balancer 12 near shaft 14. A transverse arm 30 is connected to the end of rod 22 adjacent wheel W. Arm 30 includes a rim-contacting tip 32 for engaging inner rim IR. Thus, rod 22 is extendible toward wheel W and is rotatable to bring tip 32 into contact with inner rim IR.

The end of rod 22 opposite arm 30 extends through an aperture 34 in a box-shaped bracket 36 and engages a shaft 38 of a first rotary encoder 40 extending through an aperture 42, which is in alignment with aperture 34. The end of rod 22 preferably comprises a recess into which shaft 38 extends, and the shaft is connected to rod 22 by any appropriate means, such as a set screw. In this manner, the end of rod 22 is secured to bracket 36, and bracket 36 is supported and carried on rod 22 during extension of rod 22. In addition, the body of rotary encoder 40 is secured to bracket 36 so that rotation of rod 22 will turn shaft 38.

Parameter entry device 10 further comprises a second rotary encoder 44 secured to bracket 36. Rotary encoder 44 includes a shaft which extends through an aperture in bracket 36 and is attached to a preferably plastic gear 46. Gear 46 meshes with a gear rack 48 mounted in a fixture 50, which is connected to the frame or cabinet of wheel balancer 12 by appropriate fasteners in such an orientation that rack 48 is aligned with rod 22. Therefore, extension of rod 22 will cause gear 46 to rotate relative to rack 48 and thereby turn the shaft of rotary encoder 44.

Rotary encoders 40 and 44 are preferably optical encoders which generate a number of digital pulses proportional to the amount of rotation of their shafts. Thus, rotation of arm 30 will cause first rotary encoder 40 to generate a digital output representative of the angle through which arm 30 is rotated. Similarly, extension of rod 22 will cause second rotary encoder 44 to generate a digital output representative of the distance rod 22 is extended.

In operation, an operator grasps arm 30 and brings tip 32 into contact with the lip of inner rim IR. This motion extends rod 22 and rotates arm 30, causing rotary encoders 40 and 44 to generate respective digital outputs representative of the amounts of extension and rotation. The outputs of rotary encoders 40 and 44 are fed to processor means 18, which then automatically computes the offset and diameter of the wheel using conventionally derived formulas. A spring 51 extending between fixture 24 and bracket 36 urges arm 30 back to its resting position, which is depicted in FIG. 1.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a method of calibrating parameter entry device 10 will now be described. FIG. 2 is a representation of the rotation of arm 30 between a position near the top T of backing collar 16 and a position near the bottom B of backing collar 16. These positions form an isosceles triangle PTB having sides s, s and c. During calibration, tip 32 of arm 30 is touched to the top of backing collar 16, then to the bottom of backing collar 16, then back to the resting position indicated by line Z. In the actual resting position, arm 30 is supported on bracket 52 attached to the side of wheel balancer 12 (FIG. 1 ). Since s is the length of arm 30 and the angle P is the angle measured by rotary encoder 40 during movement of tip 32 between T and B, triangle PTB can be solved using the law of cosines to yield the dimension c, as follows:

c=sqrt(2s.sup.2 -2s.sup.2 cos(P)).

From the value of c, the distance d can be determined as follows:

(d+h)=sqrt(s.sup.2 -(0.5*c).sup.2)

h=sqrt(r.sup.2 -(0.5*c).sup.2)

d=(d+h)-h,

where r is the radius of backing collar 16, which is a fixed value.

The value d must be known in order to determine the diameter of a wheel from rotation of arm 30. Since this distance may change over time due to wear and other factors, determining d during calibration yields a calibration constant which can be applied in the determination of the wheel diameter. Another calibration constant is the angle (K+P/2) from line d to the normal resting position represented by line Z. This angle is determined by rotary encoder 40 during movement of arm 30 between the two positions on backing collar 16 and the rest position Z. Once determined, the angle K+P/2 and the value d are stored by processor means 18 for use in subsequent determinations of the wheel diameter.

In measuring the diameter of the wheel, the value measured by encoder 40 by touching tip 32 to the lip of the inner rim IR is added to the calibration angle K+P/2 to yield the total angle from line d to the lip. This angle can be solved as follows to yield the rim diameter:

rim diameter=2*sqrt(s.sup.2 +d.sup.2 -2sd*cos(angle (d to rim))).

It should be recognized that, while the present invention has been described in relation to the preferred embodiments thereof, those skilled in the art may develop a wide variation of structural details without departing from the principles of the invention. Therefore, the appended claims are to be construed to cover all equivalents falling within the true scope and spirit of the invention.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5447064 *Jul 9, 1992Sep 5, 1995Hofmann Werkstatt-Technik GmbhVehicle wheel balancing machine
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6496208 *Apr 28, 1999Dec 17, 2002Microsoft CorporationMethod and apparatus for visualizing and exploring large hierarchical structures
DE102004034264A1 *Jul 15, 2004Feb 9, 2006Schenck Rotec GmbhAuswuchtmaschine für Kraftfahrzeugräder
Classifications
U.S. Classification73/462, 33/203.12
International ClassificationG01B7/12, G01M1/02
Cooperative ClassificationG01M1/02, G01B7/12
European ClassificationG01M1/02, G01B7/12
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 16, 1996ASAssignment
Owner name: FMC CORPORATION, ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ROGERS, FREDERICK J.;DEBELLEFEUILLE, JEAN;REEL/FRAME:007784/0848
Effective date: 19941003
Jun 3, 1996ASAssignment
Owner name: SNAP-ON TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FMC CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:007991/0342
Effective date: 19960331
May 4, 2000FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
May 26, 2004REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Nov 5, 2004LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Jan 4, 2005FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 20041105